6.7/10
4,798
48 user 31 critic

Bite the Bullet (1975)

Trailer
2:31 | Trailer
A group of ex-rough riders, an ex-prostitute and a gunfighter enter a horse race in the desert.

Director:

Richard Brooks

Writer:

Richard Brooks
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Hackman ... Sam Clayton
Candice Bergen ... Miss Jones
James Coburn ... Luke Matthews
Ben Johnson ... Mister
Ian Bannen ... Sir Harry Norfolk
Jan-Michael Vincent ... Carbo
Robert Donner ... Reporter
Jean Willes ... Rosie
Mario Arteaga Mario Arteaga ... Mexican
Dabney Coleman ... Jack Parker
John McLiam ... Gebhardt
Bob Hoy ... Lee Christie (as Robert Hoy)
Jerry Gatlin Jerry Gatlin ... The Wood Cutter
Sally Kirkland ... Honey
Walter Scott ... Steve (as Walter Scott Jr.)
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Storyline

At the beginning of the 20th century, a newspaper organizes an endurance horse race: 700 miles to run in a few days. 9 adventurers are competing, among them a woman, Miss Jones, a Mexican, an Englishman, a young cowboy, an old one and two friends, Sam Clayton and Luke Matthews. All those individualists will learn to respect each other. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In the tradition of Shane and High Noon, a new Western Classic is born! BITE THE BULLET See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's title comes from the fact that one can create an improvised tooth cap from a hollow bullet in order to protect an aching tooth. See more »

Goofs

When James Coburn is in the bath, the distance between the cigar and his chin changes from close to away in different shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Gebhardt: I heard your newspaper is running an honest race.
Reporter: You heard right, Mr. Gebhardt.
Gebhardt: Who the hell handicapped this owlhead as the favorite?
J.B. Parker: The smart money!
Gebhardt: That's what we come to get.
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Alternate Versions

UK version is cut (ca. 10 sec.) to remove sight of cruelty to horses (illegal horse falls) due to the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hot Lunch (1978) See more »

User Reviews

One of the Great '70s Westerns - Re: SlowMo and Animal Cruelty
23 March 2002 | by tonstant viewerSee all my reviews

"Bite the Bullet" has a lot to chew on, and boasts a fine cast held firmly under control. Hackman gives his usual unobtrusive acting lesson, Coburn twinkles but not too much, and Bergen gives the first decent acting performance of her career (after Hackman chewed her out for her lack of professional skills and she requested his help).

Questions of greed, competition, teamwork, loyalty, betrayal and humanity are all given a good and non-medicinal airing. There's enough action here for the inert, and enough philosophy for the grownups.

There's been discussion in these reviews of the director's use of slow-motion. Slow motion is not used here to make intellectual points, it is an instrument of emotional expression. When one character in real time passes another in slow motion, it conveys to us how they both feel at that moment, and doesn't need to carry any other freight. As an expressive device, it works.

The question of animal abuse has also come up in these pages. In "Bite the Bullet" the horses are always photographed as heroes, often visually overwhelming their riders. Gene Hackman is shown from the beginning as a fighter of cruelty against animals, and every abuse he witnesses he then tries to remedy. The education of the Jan Michael Vincent character is a case in point.

Furthermore, this picture makes you care about the animals, unlike the traditional offhand Hollywood cruelty. Dozens of horses were killed to make the last reel of the Errol Flynn "Charge of the Light Brigade" and the film itself couldn't care less. You can see trip wires being used wholesale as late as in "Khartoum", and when those horses went down, they broke legs and were immediately shot, not pretend, for real.

Hollywood's excuse has always been that horses are expensive and they don't kill them thoughtlessly. Stunts are performed by circus horses, which presumably don't come to harm. We're told the only horses that get killed are old and already destined for the glue factory. Whether this justifies trip wires or not is up to you, but that's what they say.

"Bite the Bullet" comes off as sensitive and responsible by comparison. This is no snuff film. The Oscar-winning sound design makes you really care when the horses are supposed to be in distress.

A lot worse things happen to the human characters in just about every action-adventure film of the last twenty years. Is the "yuck" factor we're now trying to get used to more or less disgusting?

All in all, "Bite the Bullet" is a worthwhile film with content, humor and beauty. There's thousands of worse ways to spend your time than watching this movie.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

25 June 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bite the Bullet See more »

Filming Locations:

Jacob Lake, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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